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Publication numberUS7022770 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 10/666,114
Publication dateApr 4, 2006
Filing dateSep 18, 2003
Priority dateOct 1, 2002
Fee statusPaid
Also published asCA2498086A1, CA2498086C, CA2498087A1, DE60309489D1, DE60309489T2, DE60331562D1, EP1546252A2, EP1546252B1, EP1546253A1, EP1546253B1, US6969741, US7307126, US20040062942, US20040063861, US20050215719, WO2004031291A2, WO2004031291A3, WO2004031293A1, WO2004031293A8
Publication number10666114, 666114, US 7022770 B2, US 7022770B2, US-B2-7022770, US7022770 B2, US7022770B2
InventorsArnold Lustiger, David J. Lohse, Blair A. Graham
Original AssigneeExxon Mobil Chemical Patents Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Polyethylene compositions for injection molding
US 7022770 B2
Abstract
Polyethylene blend compositions suitable for injection molding, injection molded articles, and processes for injection molding articles are provided. The polyethylene compositions include a first polyethylene having a melt index of 0.1 to 3.0 g/10 min and a density of from 0.905 to 0.938 g/cm3; and a second polyethylene having a melt index of 10 to 500 g/10 min and a density of 0.945 to 0.975 g/cm3. The composition has a density of from 0.920 to 0.973 g/cm3 and a melt index of 2 to 200 g/10 min, and the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.037 to 0.062 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene. These compositions exhibit improved physical properties, such as Environmental Stress Crack Resistance, relative to conventional compositions of similar melt index and density.
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Claims(37)
1. A polyethylene composition comprising:
(a) a first polyethylene having a melt index of 0.1 to 3.0 g/10 min and a density of from 0.905 to 0.938 g/cm3; and
(b) a second polyethylene having a melt index of 10 to 500 g/10 min and a density of 0.945 to 0.975 g/cm3,
wherein the composition has a density of from 0.920 to 0.973 g/cm3 and a melt index of 2 to 200 g/10 min, and wherein the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.037 to 0.062 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene.
2. The composition of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first and second polyethylenes is a metallocene-catalyzed polyethylene.
3. The composition of claim 1, wherein the first and second polyethylenes are metallocene-catalyzed polyethylenes.
4. The composition of claim 2, wherein the metallocene catalyzed polyethylene has an Mw/Mn ratio of from 1.4 to 4.0.
5. The composition of claim 1, wherein the first polyethylene is a metallocene-catalyzed polyethylene having an Mw/Mn ratio of from 1.4 to 4.0.
6. The composition of claim 1, wherein the first polyethylene has a density of from 0.910 to 0.935 g/cm3.
7. The composition of claim 1, wherein the second polyethylene has a density of from 0.950 to 0.972 g/cm3.
8. The composition of claim 1, wherein the second polyethylene has a density of from 0.955 to 0.970 g/cm3.
9. The composition of claim 1, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.930 to 0.970 g/cm3.
10. The composition of claim 1, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.940 to 0.965 g/cm3.
11. The composition of claim 1, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.950 to 0.960 g/cm3.
12. The composition of claim 1, wherein the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.038 to 0.060 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene.
13. The composition of claim 1, wherein the composition has a melt index I.2.16 of from 4 to 30 g/10 min.
14. The composition of claim 1, wherein the blend comprises 80% to 20% by weight of the first polyethylene and 20% to 80% by weight of the second polyethylene, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes.
15. The composition of claim 1, wherein the blend comprises 70% to 30% by weight of the first polyethylene and 30% to 70% by weight of the second polyethylene, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes.
16. The composition of claim 1, wherein the blend comprises 60% to 40% by weight of the first polyethylene and 40% to 60% by weight of the second polyethylene, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes.
17. The composition of claim 1, wherein the blend consists essentially of the first and second polyethylenes.
18. The composition of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first and second polyethylenes comprises a blend of two or more polyethylene resins.
19. An injection molded article comprising a polyethylene composition, the polyethylene composition comprising:
(a) a first polyethylene having a melt index of 0.1 to 3.0 g/10 min and a density of from 0.905 to 0.938 g/cm3; and
(b) a second polyethylene having a melt index of 10 to 500 g/10 min and a density of 0.945 to 0.975 g/cm3,
wherein the composition has a density of from 0.920 to 0.973 g/cm3 and a melt index of 2 to 200 g/10 min, and wherein the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.037 to 0.062 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene.
20. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein at least one of the first and second polyethylenes is a metallocene-catalyzed polyethylene.
21. The injection article of claim 19, wherein the first and second polyethylenes are metallocene-catalyzed polyethylenes.
22. The injection molded article of claim 20, wherein the metallocene catalyzed polyethylene has an Mw/Mn ratio of from 1.4 to 4.0.
23. The injection molded article of claim 1, wherein the first polyethylene is a metallocene-catalyzed polyethylene having an Mw/Mn ratio of from 1.4 to 4.0.
24. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the first polyethylene has a density of from 0.910 to 0.935 g/cm3.
25. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the second polyethylene has a density of from 0.950 to 0.972 g/cm3.
26. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the second polyethylene has a density of from 0.955 to 0.970 g/cm3.
27. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.930 to 0.970 g/cm3.
28. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.940 to 0.965 g/cm3.
29. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.950 to 0.960 g/cm3.
30. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.038 to 0.060 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene.
31. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the composition has a melt index I.2.16 of from 4 to 30 g/10 min.
32. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the blend comprises 80% to 20% by weight of the first polyethylene and 20% to 80% by weight of the second polyethylene, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes.
33. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the blend comprises 70% to 30% by weight of the first polyethylene and 30% to 70% by weight of the second polyethylene, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes.
34. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the blend comprises 60% to 40% by weight of the first polyethylene and 40% to 60% by weight of the second polyethylene, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes.
35. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein the blend consists essentially of the first and second polyethylenes.
36. The injection molded article of claim 19, wherein at least one of the first and second polyethylenes comprises a blend of two or more polyethylene resins.
37. A process for forming an injection molded article, the process comprising:
(a) providing a polyethylene composition comprising
(i) a first polyethylene having a melt index of 0.1 to 3.0 g/10 min and a density of from 0.905 to 0.938 g/cm3; and
(ii) a second polyethylene having a melt index of 10 to 500 g/10 min and a density of 0.945 to 0.975 g/cm3, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.920 to 0.973 g/cm3 and a melt index of 2 to 200 g/10 min, and wherein the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.037 to 0.062 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene; and
(b) injection molding the polyethylene composition to form an injection molded article.
Description
1. CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/414,952, filed Oct. 1, 2002 and 60/424,535, filed Nov. 7, 2002, said applications incorporated herein by reference.

2. FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to thermoplastic compositions of polyethylene polymers suitable for fabrication into useful products by injection molding.

3. BACKGROUND

Injection molding is the most important process for producing moldings from thermoplastics. This significance is due to the ability of injection molding to manufacture complex molding geometries in a single stage with high levels of reproducibility. Plastics finishing is largely unnecessary and a high degree of automation is possible. All manner of consumer goods and commodity articles are manufactured using injection molding of polyethylene thermoplastics.

To injection mold a part, polyethylene thermoplastic pellets, granules or powders are melted and injected under pressure into the cavity of a mold where the melted resin is solidified by cooling for subsequent removal. More detailed discussion of injection molding may be found in Ullman's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, vol. A20, Plastics Processing, pages 688–696 (VCH Publishers, 1992).

Blends of polyethylene resins have been proposed to improve physical properties, including impact strength, environmental stress crack resistance (ESCR), and chemical resistance.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,438,238 describes blends for extrusion processing, injection molding and films, where a combination of two ethylene-α-olefin copolymers with different densities, intrinsic viscosities and number of short chain branching per 1000 carbon atoms is attributed with such physical properties.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,461,873 describes ethylene polymer blends of a high molecular weight ethylene polymer, preferably a copolymer, and a low molecular weight ethylene polymer, preferably an ethylene homopolymer, for improved film properties and ESCR, useful in the manufacture of film, in blow molding techniques, or in the production of pipes and wire coating.

EP 0 423 962 describes ethylene polymer compositions particularly suitable for gas pipes, said to have improved ESCR, comprising two or more kinds of ethylene polymers different in average molecular weight, at least one of which is a high molecular weight ethylene polymer having an intrinsic viscosity of 4.5 to 10.0 dl/g in decalin at 135° C. and a density of 0.910 to 0.930 g/cm3, and another of which is a low molecular weight ethylene polymer having an intrinsic viscosity of 0.5 to 2.0 dl/g, as determined for the first polymer, and a density of 0.938 to 0.970 g/cm3.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,082,902 describes blends of linear polyethylenes for injection and rotational molding said to have reduced crystallization times with improved impact strength and ESCR. The blends comprise: (a) a first polymer having a density of from 0.85 to 0.95 g/cm3 and a melt index (MI) of 1 to 200 g/10 min; and (b) a second polymer having a density of 0.015 to 0.15 g/cm3 greater that the density of the first polymer and an MI differing by no more that 50% from the MI of the first polymer.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,306,775 describes polyethylene blends said to have a balance of properties for processing by any of the known thermoplastic processes, specifically including improved ESCR. These compositions have: (a) low molecular weight ethylene resins made using a chromium oxide-based catalyst and having a density at least 0.955 g/cm3 and MI) between 25 and 400 g/10 min; and (b) high molecular weight ethylene copolymer resins with a density not higher than 0.955 g/cm3 and a high load melt index (HLMI) between 0.1 and 50 g/10 min.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,382,631 describes linear interpolymer polyethylene blends having molecular weight distribution (Mw/Mn)≦3 and composition distribution (CDBI)≦50%, where the blends are generally free of fractions having higher molecular weight and lower average comonomer contents than other blend components. Improved properties for films, fibers, coatings, and molded articles are attributed to these blends. In one example, a first component is an ethylene-butene copolymer with a density of 0.9042 g/cm3, Mw/Mn of 2.3, and an MI of 4.0 dg/min and a second component is a high density polyethylene (HDPE) with a density of 0.9552 g/cm3, Mw/Mn of 2.8, and an MI of 5.0 dg/min. The blend is ascribed with improved tear strength characteristics.

There is a continuing need for polyethylene-based compositions having improved environmental stress cracking resistance, particularly those suitable for injection molding applications.

4. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, polyolefin-based blend compositions suitable for injection molding, injection molded articles, and processes for injection molding articles are provided.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition including a first polyethylene having a melt index (I2.16) of 0.3 to 3.0 g/10 min and a density of from 0.905 to 0.938 g/cm3; and a second polyethylene having a melt index of 10 to 500 g/10 min and a density of 0.945 to 0.975 g/cm3, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.920 to 0.973 g/cm3 and a melt index of 2 to 200 g/10 min, and wherein the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.037 to 0.062 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene. In a particular aspect of this embodiment, the first polyethylene is a metallocene-catalyzed polyethylene. In another particular aspect of this embodiment, both the first and the second polyethylenes are metallocene-catalyzed polyethylenes.

In another embodiment, the invention provides an injection molded article formed from or including a polyethylene composition, the polyethylene composition including a first polyethylene having a melt index of 0.3 to 3.0 g/10 min and a density of from 0.905 to 0.938 g/cm3; and a second polyethylene having a melt index of 10 to 500 g/10 min and a density of 0.945 to 0.975 g/cm3, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.920 to 0.973 g/cm3 and a melt index of 2 to 200 g/10 min, and wherein the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.037 to 0.062 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene. In a particular aspect of this embodiment, the first polyethylene is a metallocene-catalyzed polyethylene. In another particular aspect of this embodiment, both the first and the second polyethylenes are metallocene-catalyzed polyethylenes.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a process for forming an injection molded article, the process carried out by: (a) providing a polyethylene composition, the polyethylene composition including a first polyethylene having a melt index of 0.3 to 3.0 g/10 min and a density of from 0.905 to 0.938 g/cm3; and a second polyethylene having a melt index of 10 to 500 g/10 min and a density of 0.945 to 0.975 g/cm3, wherein the composition has a density of from 0.920 to 0.973 g/cm3 and a melt index of 2 to 200 g/10 min, and wherein the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.037 to 0.062 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene; and (b) injection molding the composition to form an injection molded article. In a particular aspect of this embodiment, the first polyethylene is a metallocene-catalyzed polyethylene. In another particular aspect of this embodiment, both the first and the second polyethylenes are metallocene-catalyzed polyethylenes.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the metallocene catalyzed polyethylene has an Mw/Mn ratio of from 1.4 to 4.0.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the metallocene catalyzed polyethylene has an Mw/Mn ratio of from 1.8 to 3.5.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the first polyethylene has a density of from 0.910 to 0.935 g/cm3.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the first polyethylene has a melt index of 0.1 to 2.0 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the first polyethylene has a melt index of 0.1 to 1.0 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the first polyethylene has a melt index of 0.3 to 1.0 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the second polyethylene has a density of from 0.950 to 0.972 g/cm3.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the second polyethylene has a density of from 0.955 to 0.970 g/cm3.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the second polyethylene has a density of from 0.960 to 0.968 g/cm3.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the second polyethylene has a melt index of 10 to 300 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the second polyethylene has a melt index of 30 to 200 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the second polyethylene has a melt index of 50 to 100 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the composition has a density of from 0.930 to 0.970 g/cm3.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the composition has a density of from 0.940 to 0.965 g/cm3.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the composition has a density of from 0.950 to 0.960 g/cm3.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.038 to 0.062 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the density of the second polyethylene is from 0.040 to 0.060 g/cm3 greater than the density of the first polyethylene.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the composition has a melt index I.2.16 of from 3 to 100 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the composition has a melt index I.2.16 of from 3 to 50 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the composition has a melt index I.2.16 of from 4 to 30 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, except that the composition has a melt index I.2.16 of from 4 to 10 g/10 min.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, wherein the blend includes 80% to 20% by weight of the first polyethylene and 20% to 80% by weight of the second polyethylene, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, wherein the blend includes 70% to 30% by weight of the first polyethylene and 30% to 70% by weight of the second polyethylene, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, wherein the blend includes 60% to 40% by weight of the first polyethylene and 40% to 60% by weight of the second polyethylene, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments, wherein at least one of the first and second polyethylenes is a blend of two or more polyethylene resins.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a polyethylene composition, an injection molded article, or a process of forming an injection molded article, in accordance with any of the preceding embodiments except the immediately preceding embodiment, wherein the composition includes only the first and second polyethylenes, except that minor amounts of conventional additives can also be present.

5. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The inventive compositions surprisingly and advantageously provide improved ESCR for polyethylene injection molding applications, relative to compositions having the same melt index and density.

By preparing several samples of proposed blend polyethylene components and then subjecting blends prepared from them to analytical testing, it was determined that peak values of ESCR are obtained when the melt index (I2.16) and the difference in density and of the blend components were within specific ranges, as described herein. At smaller density differences for the two components, ESCR was improved over single component compositions, but was significantly deficient to those within the range for the inventive compositions. Increasing the width of the density range between the components within the invention range increased the ESCR improvement until a peak was reached in which ESCR no longer improved and began to diminish. Examining the melting peaks of the sample blends with a differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) helps illustrate the region in which ESCR improvements are no longer realized by increasing the difference in densities between the two components. This is shown by the point where by further increasing the width of the density range, the two components no longer completely cocrystallize, as evidenced by the presence of a secondary lower melting peak in the DSC scan. When the density range was wider than that described above, evidence of loss of cocrystallizability became apparent as a second melting peak or shoulder began to appear in the scans. The blends exhibiting even minimal incidence of a second shoulder had diminished ESCR improvements.

The first polyethylene of the polymer blends of the invention is a polyethylene copolymer derived from the coordination polymerization of principally ethylene with a minor amount of one or more copolymerizable monomers. Particularly improved end-product properties are obtained using such copolymers having a narrow molecular weight distribution (Mw/Mn, or “MWD”), e.g., Mw/Mn of from a lower limit of 1.4 or 1.6 or 1.8 or 2.0 to an upper limit of 4.0 or 3.8 or 3.5 or 3.0, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated. Suitable comonomers include C3–C20 alpha-olefins, preferably C3–C8, C5–C20 cyclic olefins, preferably C7–C12 cyclic olefins, C7–C20 vinyl aromatic monomers, preferably styrene, and C4–C20 geminally disubstituted olefins, preferably isobutylene. The most preferred comonomers include propylene, 1-butene, 1-hexene, 4-methyl-1-pentene and 1-octene. The density of the copolymer is determined largely by comonomer content and typically ranges from 0.905 or 0.910 g/cm3 to 0.938 or 0.935 g/cm3, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated. Some amount of long-chain branching may be present, but the density limitations are largely due to the presence of comonomer. These ethylene copolymers are of higher molecular weight than the second polyethylene of the blends, as shown by a melt index I2.16 as measured according to ASTM D1238, condition 190° C. 2.16 kg (formerly condition “E”), of from 0.1 or 0.3 to 3.0 or 2.0 or 1.0 g/10 min, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated.

The second polyethylene of the polymer blends of the invention has a higher density and a lower molecular weight than the first polyethylene. The second polyethylene can be derived from ethylene and, optionally, minor amounts of any of the comonomers listed above for the first polyethylene. The density can be from a lower limit of 0.945 or 0.950 or 0.955 or 0.960 g/cm3 to an upper limit of 0.975 or 0.972 or 0.970 or 0.968 g/cm3, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated. It should be appreciated that, the specific choice of densities must be consistent with the density differences described herein. The melt index I2.16 of the second polyethylene, as measured according to ASTM D1238, condition 190° C., 2.16 kg, can be from a lower limit of 10 or 30 or 50 to an upper limit of 500 or 300 or 200 or 100 g/10 min, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated. The second polyethylene can be any conventional polyethylene having the properties described herein, and can have a broad or narrow molecular weight distribution. In a particular embodiment, the second polyethylene has a value of Mw/Mn of from a lower limit of 1.4 or 1.6 or 1.8 or 2.0 to an upper limit of 4.0 or 3.8 or 3.5 or 3.0, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated.

Industrial methods of producing the polyethylene components of the invention are well known in the art as is exemplified in the references cited above. Any such method capable of producing polyethylene polymer components according to the invention will be suitable. Such methods include gas phase, liquid phase (or solution), and slurry phase polymerization processes, either alone or in combination. By alone, reference is made to series or serial production in a single reactor or in more than one reactor. Reactor blends will also be suitable, such as by the use of mixed catalysts or mixed polymerization conditions in a single reactor. Gas phase processes are particularly suited in view of economic advantages. Such processes use supported catalysts and are conducted in polymerization reactors under gas phase conditions suitable for linear low density ethylene copolymers prepared by coordination polymerization. Illustrative examples may be found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,543,399, 4,588,790, 5,028,670, 5,352,749, 5,382,638, 5,405,922, 5,422,999, 5,436,304, 5,453,471, 5,462,999 and 5,463,999, and International applications WO 94/28032, WO 95/07942 and WO 96/00245. These processes use either traditional Ziegler-Natta catalysts or later organometallic catalysts characterized as having essentially single polymerization sites due to the arrangement of ancillary ligands on or about the metal center. Metallocene catalysts are representative “single site catalysts” and are preferred in this invention in embodiments having narrow molecular weight distribution polyolefins. Typically, the processes are conducted at temperatures of from about −100° C. to 150° C., more typically from about 40° C. to 120° C., at pressures up to about 7000 kPa, typically from about 690 kPa to 2415 kPa. Continuous processes using fluidized beds and recycle streams as the fluidizing medium are preferred.

Slurry polymerization processes are suitable for both components and particularly suited for the high density components of the invention. These processes are typically described as those in which the polymerization medium can be either a liquid monomer, like propylene, or a hydrocarbon solvent or diluent, advantageously aliphatic paraffin such as propane, isobutane, hexane, heptane, cyclohexane, etc. or an aromatic one such as toluene. Slurry solids typically include the forming polymer and inert carrier-supported catalysts. Catalysts are typically Ziegler-Natta, and/or one or more single site catalysts, such as metallocenes. The polymerization temperatures may be those considered low, e.g., less than 50° C., typically 0° C.–30° C., or may be in a higher range, such as up to about 150° C., typically from 50° C. up to about 80° C., or at any ranges between the end points indicated. Pressures can vary from about 100 to about 700 psia (0.76–4.8 MPa). Additional description is given in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,182,810, 5,274,056, 6,319,997, 6,380,325, 6,420,497, WO 94/21962 and WO 99/32531.

The polyethylene blend compositions in accordance with the present invention can include the first polyethylene in an amount of from a lower limit of 20 or 30 or 40 wt % to an upper limit of 80 or 70 or 60 wt %, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated. Similarly, the polyethylene blend compositions in accordance with the present invention can include the second polyethylene in an amount of from a lower limit of 20 or 30 or 40 wt % to an upper limit of 80 or 70 or 60 wt %, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylenes, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated.

Additionally, either or both of the first polyethylene and the second polyethylene can be a sub-blend of two or more polyethylenes so long as the sub-blend has the properties described herein.

Although the description herein focuses on first and second polyethylenes, in some embodiments, the polyethylene blend composition can further include additional polymeric components, including additional polyethylenes, provided that the overall blend composition has the recited properties.

The weight percentages recited herein for the first and second polyethylene components are based on the total weight (100%) of the first and second polyethylene components.

The blend can have a density of from a lower limit of 0.920 or 0.930 or 0.940 or 0.950 g/cm3 to an upper limit of 0.973 or 0.970 or 0.965 or 0.960 g/cm3, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated.

The blend can have a difference in the density of the first and second polyethylenes, with the density of the second polyethylene being greater, of from a lower limit of 0.037 or 0.038 or 0.040 g/cm3 to an upper limit of 0.062 or 0.060 g/cm3, with ranges from any lower limit to any upper limit being contemplated.

The melt index I2.16 of the blend can be from a lower limit of 2 or 3 or 4 g/10 min to an upper limit of 200 or 100 or 50 or 30 or 10/10 min.

The first and second polyethylenes have weight average molecular weights Mw1 and Mw2, respectively, conforming to the relationship

M w 1 M w 2 > 1.

The densities of the first and second polyethylenes, ρ1 and ρ2, respectively, conform to the relationship

ρ 1 ρ 2 < 1.

It is well-known in the art that, all other factors being equal, ESCR is inversely proportional to density, and inversely proportional to melt index. It has been surprisingly found that polyethylene blend compositions of the invention show ESCR values greater than those of conventional compositions having the same density and melt index, but not having the inventive combination of properties described herein, such as melt indexes, densities, and density differences.

Additives may be used as needed. Typical additives include one or more of antioxidants, anti-static agents, UV stabilizers, foaming agents, processing aids, nucleating agents, nanocomposites, fiber reinforcements and pigments. Illustrative pigments or colorants include titanium dioxide, carbon black, cobalt aluminum oxides such as cobalt blue, and chromium oxides such as chromium oxide green. Pigments such as ultramarine blue, which is a silicate. Phthalocyanine blue and iron oxide red will also be suitable. Such are typically used an amounts from 0 wt % to not more than about 15 wt %, based on the total weight of the first and second polyethylene components.

6. EXAMPLES

Mz, Mw and Mn can be measured using gel permeation chromatography (GPC), also known as size exclusion chromatography (SEC). This technique utilizes an instrument containing columns packed with porous beads, an elution solvent, and detector in order to separate polymer molecules of different sizes. In a typical measurement, the GPC instrument used is a Waters chromatograph equipped with ultrastyro gel columns operated at 145° C. The elution solvent used is trichlorobenzene. The columns are calibrated using sixteen polystyrene standards of precisely known molecular weights. A correlation of polystyrene retention volume obtained from the standards, to the retention volume of the polymer tested yields the polymer molecular weight.

Average molecular weights M can be computed from the expression:

M = i N i M i n + 1 i N i M i n
where Ni is the number of molecules having a molecular weight Mi. When n=0, M is the number average molecular weight Mn. When n=1, M is the weight average molecular weight Mw. When n=2, M is the Z-average molecular weight Mz. The desired MWD function (e.g., Mw/Mn or Mz/Mw) is the ratio of the corresponding M values. Measurement of M and MWD is well known in the art and is discussed in more detail in, for example, Slade, P. E. Ed., Polymer Molecular Weights Part II, Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, (1975) 287–368; Rodriguez, F., Principles of Polymer Systems 3rd ed., Hemisphere Pub. Corp., NY, (1989) 155–160; U.S. Pat. No. 4,540,753; Verstrate et al., Macromolecules, vol. 21, (1988) 3360; and references cited therein.

Environmental Stress Crack Resistance (ESCR) (bent strip) is determined in accordance with ASTM D 1693, condition B, 10% IGEPAL™. IGEPAL™ is a nonylphenoxy poly(ethylenoxy)ethanol surfactant available from Rhone Polenc, Cranbury, N.J. All ESCR values cited herein are ASTM D 1693 condition B, 10% IGEPAL™ F50 values, and are given in units of hours.

Polymer density (g/cm3) is determined using a compression molded sample, cooled at 15° C. per hour and conditioned for 40 hours at room temperature according to ASTM D1505-68 and ASTM D1928, procedure C.

Polymer melt flow rates can be determined at 190° C. according to ASTM D-1238. I21.6 is the “flow index” or melt flow rate of the polymer measured according to ASTM D-1238, condition 190° C., 21.6 kg, and I2.16 is the “melt index” or melt flow rate of the polymer measured according to ASTM D-1238, on 190° C., 2.16 kg. The ratio of I21.6 to I2.16 is the “melt flow ratio” or “MFR”. The melt flow rate I21.6 is also sometimes termed the “high load melt index” or HLMI. Melt flow rates are reported in units of grams per 10 minutes g/10 min) or equivalently decigrams per minute (dg/min).

Examples 1–8 Comparative Examples 1–2

Table 1 illustrates the invention in examples 1a through 8a/8b, with comparative examples Comp 1 and Comp 2a–c. Each “a” row illustrates a first polyethylene component and each “b” row illustrates a second polyethylene component. In Comp 2, the “c” row indicates a third polyethylene component. The column “Δ density” provides the difference in density of the two components for each illustrated blend. In Comp 2, the difference in density is the difference between components 2a and 2c. Comp 1 illustrates a comparative single polyethylene component within the density and melt index range typical for injection molding compositions. Comp 2 illustrates a comparative blend where the density difference is less than 0.037 g/cm3 but the blend melt index and density are the same as Example 1.

The polyethylene resins in Table 1 were prepared generally in accordance with the examples in U.S. Pat. No. 5,382,631, except where noted. A zirconocene activated with alumoxane on a silica support, 12 wt % methylalumoxane and 3.5 wt % zirconium, was used as polymerization catalyst in a gas phase reactor operated at about 185° F. (85° C.), with a gas phase consisting of 70 vol % ethylene, 0.5–2.0 vol % hexene, 200–800 parts per million hydrogen, with remainder being nitrogen. From about 50 to 75 pounds (22.6 to 33.9 kg) per hour were produced in each polymerization run.

ESCR values in Table 1 given as ranges indicate that the sample failure occurred at an undetermined time between the times shown. The ESCR value for blend 6a/6b indicates that the sample was intact when testing was stopped at 605 hours.

Comparative Examples 1 and 2 have the same density as Example 1, and the same or comparable melt index, but show poor ESCR performance (4.5 hours versus 78.5–143 hours).

TABLE 1
Melt Δ
Index I2.16 Density Mw/ density ESCR, F50
Example Wt % (g/10 min) (g/cm3) Mn (g/cm3) (hr)
1a 30.6 0.46 0.911 2.50
1b 69.4 56.6 0.970 3.8
1a/1b Blend 100 6.8 0.952 0.059 78.8–143 
2a 27.2 0.46 0.911 2.50
2b 72.8 56.6 0.970 3.8
2a/2b Blend 100 7.5 0.954 0.059 69.5 
3a 25.5 0.46 0.911 2.50
3b 74.5 56.6 0.970 3.8
3a/3b Blend 100 8.6 0.955 0.059  6.5–23.5
4a 23.8 0.46 0.911 2.50
4b 76.2 56.6 0.970 3.8
4a/4b Blend 100 9.3 0.956 0.059  6.5–23.5
5a 22.2 0.46 0.911 2.50
5b 77.8 56.6 0.970 3.8
5a/5b Blend 100 10.0 0.957 0.059   5–6.5
6a 30 0.45 0.919 2.59
6b 70 56.6 0.970 3.8
6a/6b Blend 100 4.8 0.955 0.051 >605
7a 24 0.45 0.919 2.59
7b 76 56.6 0.970 3.8
7a/7b Blend 100 5.4 0.958 0.051 60–78
8a 35.5 0.86 0.919 2.43
8b 64.5 56.6 0.970 3.8
8a/8b Blend 100 7.0 0.952 0.051 21–39
Comp 1* 100 6.5 0.952 3.6 4.5
Comp 2a 29 3.0 0.935 2.82
Comp 2b 34 3.0 0.947 2.87
Comp 2c 37 56.6 0.970 3.8
Comp 2a/2b/2c 100 6.8 0.952 0.035 4.5
Blend
*Commercial HDPE for injection molding (HD6706, ExxonMobil Chemical)

Various tradenames used herein are indicated by a ™ symbol, indicating that the names may be protected by certain trademark rights. Some such names may also be registered trademarks in various jurisdictions.

All patents, test procedures, and other documents cited herein, including priority documents, are fully incorporated by reference to the extent such disclosure is not inconsistent with this invention and for all jurisdictions in which such incorporation is permitted.

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Referenced by
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Classifications
U.S. Classification525/191, 525/240
International ClassificationC08L23/08, C08F8/00, C08L23/00, C08L23/04
Cooperative ClassificationC08L2205/02, C08L2314/06, C08L23/0815, C08L2205/025
European ClassificationC08L23/08A1
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